Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2021, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages: 7-16  
J. Environ. Treat. Tech.  
ISSN: 2309-1185  
Journal web link: http://www.jett.dormaj.com  
https://doi.org/10.47277/JETT/9(1)16  
An Overview on Major Design Constraints, Impact  
and Challenges for a Conventional Wastewater  
Treatment Design  
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Saidur R Chowdhury *, Feras Alhelal , Mohammad Alahmadi , Naif Alqahtani , Abdullah  
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3
Alkhaldi , Andi Asiz  
1
Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering Department, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU), Al khobar, Saudi Arabia  
2
Saudi Consolidated Engineering Company, Khatibalami, Khobar, King Faisal Road. KSA  
3
Civil Engineering Department, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU), Al khobar, Saudi Arabia  
Received: 08/07/2020  
Accepted: 04/09/2020  
Published: 20/12/2020  
Abstract  
The conventional wastewater (WW) treatment plant includes physical, chemical, and biological treatment processes that can protect the  
receiving water bodies from water pollution. The common design constraints, challenges as well as environmental impact would make the  
wastewater treatment plant’s (WWTP) construction and operation more complex and demanding tasks. Major project constraints for WW  
plant design are economics, accessibility, fulfilling technical requirements, institutional set-up, health and environment, personnel capacity,  
and political commitment etc. Design methodology adopted in the current study included project location, unit selections, the design capacity,  
design period as well as proximity to the population and layout plan. The present manuscript discussed briefly about effluent quality  
requirements, design issues, environmental impacts, details, and safety concerns. It also highlighted the necessary flexibility to carry out the  
treatment satisfactorily within the desired range of influent WW characteristics and flows. In the present study, every step of the design was  
verified with Environmental Regulations and suggested to overcome all constraints while designing WWTPs so that standard operational  
code for the specific region could be implemented to achieve the best treatment performance. The results obtained from analytical calculation  
were optimized to achieve the best design parameters for field application. The optimized values also reduce the construction and operation  
cost during the field application.  
Keywords: Wastewater (WW), Challenges, Constraints, Design, Impact, Treatment, Plant  
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depending on the resources’ availabilities (7). The conventional  
1
Introduction  
steps include primary, secondary to tertiary treatment (1). Primary  
treatment considers as the first step of WW treatment. Many  
advanced WWTPs located in the developed countries started with  
primary treatment and then equipped with other treatment units as  
increasing wastewater loads and the requirement to produce clean  
water prior to final disposal into receiving bodies (7). The  
treatment also increases the production of treated water for  
agriculture and other developments. Primary treatment is used to  
reduce suspended and floating solids from raw WW. This level  
can be defined as mechanical or physical treatment, although  
chemicals are often applied to complete the sedimentation process  
Wastewater (WW) treatment plant is very important as any  
other necessary facility for constructing a sustainable city.  
Domestic wastewater treatment consists of various units to  
remove different types of contaminants from WW (1-3). It  
includes physical, chemical, and biological treatment processes  
that can protect the receiving water bodies from water pollution,  
make recycled water as well as reduce the volume of sewage  
water and sludge (4). Environmental benefits from WW include  
safer and more stable healthy aquatic ecosystems and reduce  
amount of wastewater released into the environment without any  
treatment (5). Any wastewater treatment provides an opportunity  
for sustainable solution to some aspects of the water scarcity  
problem (6). The proper management of wastewater develops the  
sustainable and healthy environment (5). The common design  
constraints, challenges as well as environmental impact would  
make the WW treatment plant’s construction and operation more  
complex and demanding tasks. WW treatment contains a series of  
steps that can have increasing effectiveness and complexity  
(
8). Primary treatment can reduce the biochemical oxygen  
demand (BOD ) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the  
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incoming wastewater by 25-50% (8-9). During primary treatment,  
the total suspended solids are removed by approximately 50-70%  
as well as 65% removal could be achieved for oil and grease (9).  
Secondary to tertiary treatment applies to purify wastewater more  
and can also act as a resource recovery unit (7).  
*
Corresponding author: Saidur R Chowdhury, Civil Engineering Department, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU), Al-khobar,  
Saudi Arabia. E-mail: schowdhury1@pmu.edu.sa  
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Journal of Environmental Treatment Techniques  
2021, Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages: 7-16  
The production and maintenance cost of treated water exceeds  
that of potable water in many regions of the world where sources  
of fresh water supply are plentiful. However, introduction to  
innovative technology in the water industry, the reclaimed water  
is usually sold to citizen at a cheaper rate to encourage its use (7).  
Ouda (7) further reported that fresh water supplies to the  
community would be inadequate due to increased population  
demands, or unplanned urbanization, and reducing clean water  
sources. In addition, using reclaimed water for non-potable uses  
save potable water for drinking, since less potable water is used  
for non-potable uses such as irrigation. Every human being uses  
the water in different way such as domestic, agriculture, and  
industrial or even for drinking. In the present study, design  
constraints, environmental impacts, costs and few challenges  
were highlighted to develop any conventional treatment plant in  
any newly developed cities. The outcome of the present study was  
extracted from the student capstone project in the civil  
engineering department at Prince Mohammad bin Fahd  
University (PMU) in Saudi Arabia. The study explored the  
processes to complete any conceptual treatment design within  
limited resources. In the present study, a large area in Al Firdous  
District under Jubail Industrial City in Eastern Province was  
selected to develop a sustainable new housing district. This new  
district includes houses, commercial complexes, multi-storey  
building, and gas stations. It is expected that in addition to the  
current volume of wastewater, a significant amount of wastewater  
would be generated from the area in the near future. If this  
wastewater would be discharged into the environment without  
treatment, it could be a severe threat to the public health and  
hazard to the environment. Thus, the proposed wastewater  
treatment plant within the new districts can help to reduce the  
pressure on the existing wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in  
Jubail Industrial City in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).  
The present study aimed to design a wastewater treatment  
plant to serve the community. The scope and objectives of the  
study were to evaluate major design constraints, impact and  
challenges while designing any conventional WW treatment  
plants. The manuscript also included the required consideration  
for plant construction site, the degree of effluent quality, design  
issues and details, outfalls, important facilities and common  
safety issues. The study also calculated volume of WW to be  
generated during the design period of 25 years; to develop the  
conceptualized design for the primary and secondary wastewater  
treatment units (based on the estimated wastewater); to assess the  
environmental impact of the proposed wastewater plant. The  
present study also verified major design requirement and  
consideration for successful WW plant operations. Till to date,  
very few studies have investigated constraints, impact and  
challenges for a conventional WW treatment plant design. This  
was one of the studies that focused on the basic information  
necessary to overcome the design constraint, sustainability and  
key challenges for constructing conventional WW treatment plant  
within newly developed cities under different environmental  
conditions.  
WW, applying standard practices for the necessary design  
parameters and optimizing design parameters based on applicable  
constraints and regulations. A proposed WWTP project intended  
to be located in Al Firdous District of Jubail Industrial City was  
used as the main vehicle for analyzing and synthesizing design  
information, process, and optimization. In the study, all analytical  
calculations for different design parameters were optimized by  
MS Excel Solver for verification and Justification.  
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was evaluated by  
field visits and document study. The results of EIA for the  
proposed project were verified and contrasted with the recent  
design practices. Important information about the project site and  
existing environmental condition was discussed with the Local  
City Corporation and stakeholder to ensure its feasibility. All  
observations and design constraints were identified, compared,  
verified as well as provided justification for solution by the  
investigators. Design steps were evaluated based on applicable  
theories, expert opinion, site condition, and optimum standard  
values. At the end, all potential challenges were summarized in  
this study and their possible solutions were discussed. The  
manuscripts also listed some important considerations to  
successfully complete any WWTP design that could fit with site  
condition for a newly developed plant.  
3
WW Project Constraints and operational code  
Sustainable development provides a good standard of living  
in any society. It can facilitate important solutions to the financial,  
environmental, and societal challenges without causing a hazard  
to human and environmental issues. Environmental protection  
and conservation of natural water body consider design  
requirement and design consideration significantly while any  
sustainable development in environmental sector takes place.  
Water pollution from wastewater discharges may vary depending  
on their types, sources and strength. These wastewaters entered  
into the natural water body through various channel can cause a  
great concern to community. The conventional WW treatment can  
reduce this problem. Prior to constructing WW plant, numerous  
constraints need to be checked for sustainability. Any design  
constraint for WW project means the list of problems that are  
counted to overcome prior to the final design approval in case of  
successful construction and plant operation. Major project  
constraints for wastewater plant design (WWTP) are economics,  
accessibility, health and environment, prevailing wind direction,  
suitability of hydrogeological condition, fulfilling technical  
facilities, institutional set-up and personnel capacity and  
policy/political commitment etc.  
Another major constraint for wastewater treatment plant is  
enforcement of standards monitoring. The design capacity for  
wastewater plant should be such that the treated effluent would  
continuously meet accepted quality criteria that can reduce any  
risk. WWT related risk occurs due to the failure to meet  
established standards at source (i.e. WW treatment outflow); not  
complying standard operation procedure (SOPs); lack of qualified  
employees to monitor treatment facilities; ineffective monitoring  
of WW reuse system; absence of skilled personnel; lack of proper  
monitoring equipment; and expensive operation and monitoring  
costs (Ministry of the Environment 2008) (10).  
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Study Methodology  
The methodology used in the study included: by reviewing  
and verifying literatures on WWTP design, recent site rela